Hingis to make competitive return at Gold Coast event
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) - Martina Hingis will make her competitive return to tennis at a WTA tournament on the Gold Coast starting on New Year's Day.
Last month, 25-year-old Hingis announced she planned to return to the professional circuit in 2006 and end a four-year retirement.
"I'm very excited to be making my return to competitive tennis in Australia, I have always felt at home on the Australian courts," Hingis said in a statement released by organizers on Tuesday.
Maria Sharapova is among the other entries at the Australian women's hardcourt tournament at Royal Pines.
"I know I'll get some tough matches and it will allow me to get used to the Australian summer coming from the European winter, both of which will be helpful with my preparation for the Australian Open," Hingis said.
She made a brief comeback in February at the Thailand Open to raise funds for Asian tsunami victims, and lost in the first round.
Hingis won five Grand Slam singles titles, and was only 16 1/2 when she took over the top ranking in March 1997. She won 40 career singles titles and 36 doubles titles, and hopes to receive a wild card into the Australian Open at Melbourne in January, a tournament she won three times.
Meanwhile, former top-five player Jelena Dokic won a wild card playoff in Melbourne for a place in the Australian Open main draw.
Dokic started her career in Australia, and represented Australia through 2000, but under her controversial father and coach Damir, she switched nationality in 2001 to the nation of her birth, Serbia and Montenegro. Since she and her father split in 2003, the 22-year-old has returned to Australia to revive her career which includes five singles titles and a Wimbledon semifinals.